Wigan, Widnes and Leeds are all in to the final eight of English rugby league’s Challenge Cup after wins over the weekend.
Australian Matty Bowen may have run in a hat-trick of tries in just 22 minutes for the Wigan Warriors but coach Shaun Wane admits he is just happy to be in the last eight of the Challenge Cup.
The Warriors were 42-8 up against Hunslet Hawks at half-time after former North Queensland Cowboys full-back Bowen inspired a dominant 40 minutes – Matty Smith also crossed over twice before the break.
But Wigan, who racked up 84 points against Bradford Bulls on Easter Monday, added just two tries after the break, eventually settling for a 52-8 win against their Championship One opposition.
Wane had no complaints with the way his side started the game and conceded the way they tailed off was not a complete surprise.
“I just wanted to win the game in a decent manner,” he said.
“I was in to the players all week about starting well and we did. We were a bit disrupted with the changes we made and we didn’t finish the game very well.
“The second half wasn’t great but we did enough and we are in the next round. We had a tough weekend last weekend and, with everything combined, it was never going to be a fantastic performance today.
“It was never going to a 100 per cent performance.”
Elsewhere Salford Red Devils were beaten 30-20 at home by Widnes Vikings, as Australian fullback Rhys Hanbury ran in two tries for the visitors.
Junior Sa’u and Lama Tasi scored for the hosts, as well as a Gareth Hock double, but they were always second best according to Salford head coach Iestyn Harris.
“We got exactly what we deserved,” he said. “Rugby league is about attitude and, certainly in the first half, they wanted it more than us.
“When you say that as a coach of the team that’s on the wrong side of that, it’s difficult to take. It’s concerning.”
And his opposite number Denis Betts echoed Harris’ thoughts.
“We were the best team by many miles,” said Betts. “The score says it was close, but I don’t think it was. We dominated them from start to finish.”
On Saturday, St Helens coach Nathan Brown admitted an uninspiring defensive display let his side down, after they were beaten 32-12 by Leeds Rhinos.
The former St George Illawara boss witnessed Leeds punish his charges, who could only manage two tries through Adam Swift and Josh Jones — both converted by ex-Newcastle and Penrith halfback Luke Walsh.
“The reality is when you play Leeds your defence has to be good for 80 minutes,” said Brown.
“If you have one play off or someone makes a bad read then the speed of (Danny) McGuire and those blokes they have around them are hard to scramble against.
“We made a few bad reads and they punished us for it.
“At 20-12 it was quite a decent contest, three tries to two and probably where the game was at. We had two or three good ball sets and good ball attack. Their defence is very good and that is why they are where they are in the table.”